Stratified Squamous Epithelium

Numerous cell layers, the most superficial of which is squamous, characterize stratified squamous epithelium. The function of this type of tissue is protection. To protect against the sheer force on these cells, the middle layer of this tissue contains prickle cells, which are cells that contain a large amount of desmosomes to help hold cells to each other. The basal layer of this tissue is cuboidal, and becomes increasingly flattened as it reaches the surface.  

    Stratified squamous epithelia can be keratinized or nonkeratinized, depending on the location it is found in. Keratinized epithelium, also called "cornified" is composed of numerous layers of dead squamous cells. Moist areas like the mouth and vagina donít need protection from desiccation, and are therefore nonkeratinized. The slide shown above is an example of  nonkeratinized stratified squamous. Skin is cornified. Keratinized cells are distinguished by their lack of nuclei.

Slide Used with permission by www.epithelium